Thursday, September 30, 2004

Quotes of the day...

It's probably more accurate to call them quotes of the week or month or something since I will not be posting quotes daily, but anyway...
I ran across some great quotes in Justice Robert H. Jackson's opinion for the majority in the case of West Virginia State Board of Education v.
, a 1943 Pledge of Allegiance case (because I'm so super cool I read stuff like this at work rather than work or do other things that require social skills, but anyway...). Here are some great bits, really apropos of nothing, but pithy and, I guess, in a way apropos of everything:
"Government of limited power need not be anemic government. Assurance that rights are secure tends to diminish fear and jealousy of strong government, and by making us feel safe to live under it makes for its better support. Without promise of a limiting Bill of Rights it is [319 U.S. 624, 637] doubtful if our Constitution could have mustered enough strength to enable its ratification. To enforce those rights today is not to choose weak government over strong government. It is only to adhere as a means of strength to individual freedom of mind in preference to officially disciplined uniformity for which history indicates a disappointing and disastrous end."

"The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One's right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."

So put that in your bong water pipe and smoke it.

More good drug war news:

OK, well maybe it's more accurate to call it news that the madness wasn't allowed, in one particularly egregious case, to get worse. So huzzah to the 9th circuit for ruling sensibly. And a big "better late than never, ya zealots" to the Bush Administration for dropping their appeal and allowing non-psychoactive, vaguely marijuana-like, tremendously versatile food products to remain legal.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

About Mr. Guevara-

Paul Berman has an article in Slate
that's well worth reading. It's essentially pointing out that Che Guevara was not the purehearted martyr he's made out to be. The essential bits:
Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims...[h]e helped establish an unjust social system in Cuba and has been erected into a symbol of social justice. He stood for the ancient rigidities of Latin-American thought, in a Marxist-Leninist version, and he has been celebrated as a free-thinker and a rebel.

Berman's no reactionary; his leftist bona-fides are solid. And he's right to assail the cult of Guevara when it's about to get a pop-cultural shot in the arm. The people walking and driving around the bay area with their Che® patches and stickers right alongside their peace symbols have always struck me as remarkably ignorant. Almost as ignorant as those who say "what we really need is a revolution, maaaan". Right fella. Spoken like someone who's never been through a revolution. Cute patch, by the way.
Anyhow, don't let my ellipses speak for Berman's timely and worthwhile article. Read the whole thing.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Update on court stripping-

Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor and legal blogger par excellence says the court stripping numbskulls alluded to below may actually undermine their own purpose if their law passes. The money quote:
Of course, it may well be that the bills purpose is more to make a political statement, by highlighting the way liberal judges have interpreted the Establishment Clause to prohibit many kinds of religious references by the government. But voters who support such religious references should realize that, as a purely legal matter, the bill may undermine "under God" instead of safeguarding it.

Read the whole thing for a full explanation. Is there any kind of a political Darwin Award for shooting your ideology in the foot?

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Oh, THIS is reassuring...

By a margin of 247 to 173, the House of Representatives voted today to demonstrate their utter lack of respect for our system of government. This ridiculous bill will most likely not pass the senate, and will therefore die, but it's mighty alarming nonetheless.
The bill is to strip federal courts of jurisdiction over any case involving the inclusion of the phrase "under God" in the pledge of allegiance. It's author, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)said that to allow courts to rule "under God" unconstitutional would be to "have emasculated the very heart of what America has always been about." Hmmmmm. You mean like checks, balances, separation of powers, that kind of thing that America's always been about? I guess not.
Mr. Akin, and his cohorts Tom Delay, Pat Robertson, et al, don't seem to remember that we are a nation founded on the principle that our rights are only to be infringed when absolutely necessary for the peaceful functioning of the republic. As such, we've eschewed the idea of a state religion, not to hamper their right to worship as they see fit, but to ensure that right. Unfortunately for them, that means we have to protect others' rights to worship, or not worship as they see fit. Sometimes that means that others will not worship the same god as them or *gasp* any god at all. To prevent any one group from siezing the reins of goverment and forcing Mr. Akin's children to worship Baal, or Vishnu, or a golden calf against their will, we've diluted power through the three branches of government. This means that even if, hypothetically (ahem), fanatics are ascendant in Congress or the White House, there is another bulwark in the courts to prevent the hasty stripping of constitutional protections. And if Mr. Akin doesn't like the types of decisions coming out of the courts their makeups can be changed by the voters electing presidents and members of Congress who will appoint and confirm justices who see things their way.
But that's just not quick enough for these poor dears. It's not a sensational or dramatic enough way for them to have their way. So they want to kick the courts out of the process altogether. If it wasn't so disgraceful, it'd be silly.
They say the republic of the United States of America was created by geniuses so it could be run by imbeciles. We're certainly putting that maxim to the test, aren't we?

Friday, September 17, 2004

Someday this won't be so amazing...

Last week, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld a 2003 ruling that found that adults have a right under the state constitution to posses marijuana in their homes.
The Court of Appeals based its 2003 decision on a 1975 Alaska Supreme Court ruling (Ravin v. State) which held that the state's constitutional protections regarding a citizen's right to privacy protects the personal use and possession of up to four ounces of marijuana in one's home. Since the state's existing marijuana possession law (based on the 1990 recriminalzation measure) conflicts with Ravin, the law is unconstitutional, the court ruled.

Yeehaw, it's a twofer! They both refused to reconsider the opinion of the lower court that adults have a constitutional right to possess pot in their own homes (ya' think?), and invalidated a reactionary voter initiative criminalizing any pot possession (let that be a cautionary lesson to all of you direct democracy fetishizing "progressives").
I must admit to feeling a bit silly for celebrating something so obvious. It's like giving a child a cookie for breathing. But in a world of felony possession busts and mandatory minimums, you take what you can get.
There are a lot of issues where I can at least see where the other side is coming from, even if I think their reasoning is flawed, or their facts wrong. But criminalizing possession of a bloody weed? No, I don't get that. It's one of the most useful plants in human history, but we can't have it. Why? Because it can be used as an intoxicant. Great. So can alcohol, and that's (rightfully) legal. If you don't want to get high, don't smoke pot. I sure don't, and somehow I manage to keep my blood pressure down when confronted with the fact that some people are getting stoned. Driving while high, you say? Driving recklessly and/or under the influence is already a crime.
The issue is pleasure. For some damn reason, we have a problem with pleasure in this country. You can take synthetic cannabinoids in the form of marinol for your chemo-induced nausea, but we'll toss your sick ass in the hoosgow if you eat a pot brownie. Simply because the brownie might give you a slightly euphoric feeling to go with your relief, it's verboten. This is just stupid.
Well at least in this election year we've got an historical opportunity to cast our votes and make a clear choice between the morally and legally backward status quo and...erm...a slight improvement over the morally and legally backward status quo.
*SIGH* Baby steps, I guess...

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

50 CC's of 20th century history, stat!!!

Wow. This is just a remarkably knuckle-headed move in Hong Kong.
Cheng added that the designer wanted the clothes to have a military theme and did not realise that the Nazi symbols would be considered offensive
Right, of course. It's an honest mistake that anyone who's never been exposed to the written word, televison, or movies could make.
Fashion folk, kids. Avert your eyes. They just aren't like you and me...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Poetitics? Poloetry?

Eugene Volokh posted this Kipling poem a while back. Seems mighty timely in light of all the hostage taking going on in the world:

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night -- we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
And then you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we've proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Volokh disparaged the poem's quality, but it's right up my alley. It's simple, expository, about international politics, and it rhymes. Sounds like a winner to me.